Tour de France

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The Tour de France is the most sought after crown in the cycling world. This epic race covers 2200 miles, takes 22 days to complete, has men with shaved legs and offers much inspiration for any professional cyclists-come-writers.

When writing it’s always the way that we take inspiration from our surroundings; right now I’m tempted to create an epic novel that highlights the struggle of an unmade bed and half a glass of orange squash. We absorb atmospheres and characteristics of places all the time and sometimes even pop out with a camera, a pad and a pen to try and get a feel for the busy London markets or the local dominatrix dungeon. The Tour de France covers 21 stages, so between cramp, sweating and looking at the person two yards in front of you for a few hours at a time – that’s a lot of possible inspiration.

Naturally the race concludes in Paris. We all know what Paris looks like because they sell pictures of it in places like TK Maxx and it appears on the front of travel guides globally as the must see place in France. On top of this though there’s a lot more little gems that can be found in France that cyclists are hogging and that should appear as a setting for some sort of new age novel involving a pig farm or two.

First of all there is Les Esserts, which is home to a 19th Century manor house. There are also intricate villages and lovely locals to get your imagination flowing. A little further down the route is the stage between Dinan and Lisieux that has a selection of architectural delights, such as an old Gothic church that would be more than at home playing the part of an extra in Dracula. Further on in the race is Aurillac, which hosts the Aurillac Street Theatre Festival, a celebration of everything colourful and fun. With entertainment for everyone there’s sure to be a character you can take on board and turn into the next big serial killer or the one man to save the human race from the octo-baby that was spawned when Jupitar and Saturn collided on a windy day. The festival is sought after by promoters and companies world wide and almost acts as a Cannes for those with an interest in live theatre.

The final destination on the route that I’d like to share is Montpellier on the South coast. Montpellier is littered with festivals of dance and arts, but also has a back garden that leads out on to the Mediterranean Sea. If you’re on your bike, having a stern pedal along and the sun starts to set over the sea then have a look, you’ll probably be writing until the next stage starts.

Obviously I’ve only mentioned a tiny fraction of what’s on view for inspiration during the Tour de France; all you need to do is become a professional cyclist and go visit them, or just check them out. Up to you.

Keith Hodges

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